Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or all three, you’ve undoubtedly seen the “fitness motivation” pictures that pop up in your social media news feeds. “Strong is the new skinny” is the latest saying, encouraging women to focus on health and strength instead of starvation diets and wafer-thin frames.
On one hand, it might be seen as a positive shift to focus on strength and health, but the physiques in these pictures – which showcase six-pack abs, defined arms and ultra-toned legs – can be just as hard to achieve as a size 30, muscle-free body. The problem that many people have with the “strong is the new skinny” saying is the fact that it shames skinny people (some people can’t help being tiny!) and also because the women in the fitness motivation pictures are also super skinny, they’ve just more well defined muscles on top of their skinniness thanks to added effort in the gym.
It takes a lot of work to build muscle and gaining muscle mass is a difficult science to master. The uptake of crossfit, adventure bootcamps and other workout regimes are a sign that more women are moving into weight-based training and away from Jane Fonda type aerobic classes. While nobody will dispute the positive impact that weight lifting has on both men and women, most women will agree that some of us put on muscle more easily than others (and sometimes we gain visible muscle mass in areas that we don’t want to have muscles as a result of too much training).
Be healthy, don’t obsess about your looks
The idea of “beautiful” continues to change. Many years ago, Marilyn Monroe’s curves were sexy. Not too long ago, painstakingly thin runway models were considered beautiful. Nowadays, having the body of a fitness model is the ideal. In a way, a shift to weight training could be a good thing (mainly because it was something that many women feared would lead to “bulking up”), but an unhealthy goal of achieving the perfect ‘strong’ body isn’t any healthier than following a crazy juicing diet would be. Focus on being strong and healthy inside, not on what you look like from the outside.